Walmart introduces farm-to-plate blockchain tracking of leafy greens; systems to be in place by next year

On 24th September, the news of the giant retailer Walmart working with IBM to apply the blockchain technology to its supply chain came to light. The company issued a statement where it publicly shared that it has deployed blockchain to track leafy greens.

In the statement, Walmart’s Matt Smith wrote about the food safety issue that people often forget to attend. He also mentioned the uprising of health incidents caused by the production of spoilt foods. For instance, according to the official data, the outbreak of E. coli in romaine lettuce or Salmonella in eggs and cereals that occurred this year affected 210 people in 36 states.

2018 E. coli and Salmonella Outbreak | Source: FDA.gov, CDC.gov

2018 E. coli and Salmonella Outbreak | Source: FDA.gov, CDC.gov

In the wake of the blockchain implementation, the retailer notified all the suppliers of green leafy produce to track the products from the beginning of their journey from the farm till the end via blockchain technology. Furthermore, the suppliers have been given the time till the next year to set up the systems required for the implementation.

Frank Yiannas, the VP of Food Safety at Walmart stated that one of the most discussed features of blockchain is that it creates a shared value, hence, making it democratic. He then said that Walmart has asked suppliers to join in promoting greater food traceability, which could potentially help a customer to scan a bag of salad and be certain if the product is involved in a recall. Yiannas also mentioned that the food system is large and cannot be tracked by just one entity. He then stated:

“We’ve been working with IBM to digitize that, so the information is captured on the farm with a handheld system. It’s [also] captured at the packing house at the supplier.”

Before Walmart, IBM also joined hands with a blockchain enterprise called HACERA to create a place for corporates and other institutions to learn more about the adoption of the blockchain. The list known as Unbounded Registry will have all the blockchain projects listed for these companies to adopt. Furthermore, the hub of blockchain information is also to help them find diverse options of adoption as well as the means of participation in the projects.

A Twitter user interested in stocks, property, artificial intelligence and blockchain gave a stance on the step taken by Walmart. The user said:

“How can they tell if someone just swaps the vegetables but keeps the containers? Blockchain is great for fixed assets, but no so relevant for food imo”

Cowanisms, another Twitter user and a blockchain space follower also wrote:

“It sounds fancier. Can’t see a reason for blockchain and a distributed ledger for tracking products through your own supply chain. – Cowanisms”

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